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Anti-UV Accessories Enter the Realm of Fashion (July 14, 2005)

A woman wearing ray sleeves
The end of the rainy season in Japan ushers in high summer. For Japanese women, this is the season of worrying about ultraviolet rays. This year the standard arsenal of protective gear that includes parasols, hats, and gloves has been joined by an array of new accessories like "ray sleeves" and arm stoles. Offered in a variety of colors and designs, many of these UV-blocking items are very stylish, and some women are using them as fashion accessories or to keep warm in excessively air-conditioned buildings.

Function Plus Style
With summer in full swing, people are concerned about exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. And the thinning of the atmosphere's ozone layer means that the amount of UV radiation reaching the earth grows with each passing year. The World Health Organization has declared that sunbathing is not a healthy practice. Awareness of the damaging effects of UV rays is on the rise in Japan, and a growing number of people are taking protective measures against the sun year-round.

Parasols come in a wide range of designs

When talk turns to UV-blocking accessories, the items that immediately come to mind are parasols, gloves, and hats. Printemps Ginza, a department store that attracts fashion-conscious young women, reports that parasols are selling briskly, not only in the perennial favorite colors of white and black but also in fruity greens, yellows, and oranges. Also popular these days are gloves in bright colors like pink, orange, and blue, and ones that are embroidered or distinctively designed.

Since March, the Takashimaya department store has been offering a new type of anti-UV garment called "ray sleeves," which cover the arms. (They look like arm-warmers but come in lightweight fabric.) Some ray sleeves even cover the hands all the way to the base of the fingers. In addition to being anti-UV, the fabric is treated to give it moisturizing, antibacterial, and deodorant properties. Arm-covering garments have been available before, but not for UV protection; they were designed to protect office clothing from ink stains and the like. In contrast to those utilitarian tubes of black fabric, ray sleeves fit the arms closely, and the wearer feels as though she has on just the sleeves of a long-sleeved t-shirt. They can be paired with a sleeveless top to project a sexy image, or with a short-sleeved t-shirt to achieve the layered look that is currently in vogue.

Ray sleeves have become a common sight

Unlike gloves, ray sleeves leave the fingers bare, allowing the wearer to perform even the most fiddly of tasks. They have a sleek appearance and come in a variety of colors (black, white, pink, blue, and more), designs (some have gathers and slits), and fabrics (some are even made of lace or metallic fabric). And since ray sleeves have the insulating power of a single layer of t-shirt fabric, they are also an ideal way to keep warm in an over-air-conditioned environment. Another popular UV-blocking product similar to ray sleeves is the arm stole, a pair of sleeves that are joined at the back.

There is more than one reason for the emergence of such a rich selection of UV-cutting garments. Besides the evolution of anti-UV fabric technology, there is also the fact that sun protection measures have become a fact of everyday life, prompting women to incorporate anti-UV apparel into their personal style. UV-cutting hats, sunglasses, and bathing suits for kids have also come out, and before long there may also be a growing number of anti-UV garments for men, who are said to be even more susceptible than women to the sun's damaging rays.

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Copyright (c) 2005 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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